The cross-sectional associations of chronic conditions and disability with self-reported physical activity among adults in England

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Objective: Using cross-sectional data from the 2018 Health Survey for England, this study describes the types of impairment reported by people with chronic conditions and the association of chronic conditions and impairments with physical activity(PA).  

Methods: Participants self-reported the presence of seven chronic health conditions (diabetes; stroke/ischemic heart disease; hypertension; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD); asthma; arthritis/rheumatism/fibrositis; back problems), 11 types of impairment (vision, hearing, mobility, dexterity; learning; memory; mental health; stamina; social or behavioural; other; none); and their PA using the International Physical Activity Questionnaire. Multivariable Poisson regression was used to estimate the association of a)impairment type, b)number of impairments, and c)impairment type and chronic condition (mutually adjusted) with PA.  

Results: In total, 2243 adults (55% female, 44% age > 55 yrs) reported having a chronic condition. PA volume (MET minutes per week: median (IQR)) was highest in participants with asthma (2093 (693–4479)), and lowest in those with COPD (454 (0–2079)). There was a negative association between number of impairments and levels of PA. After adjustment for age, sex, ethnicity and education, and mutually adjusting for all other conditions and impairments, diabetes (Incident rate ratio (95% confidence interval): 0.83 (0.73–0.94)), COPD (0.76 (0.59–0.99)), a mobility impairment (0.63 (0.56–0.72)), a dexterity impairment (0.86 (0.75–0.98)), or a memory impairment (0.84 (0.72–0.99)) was negatively associated with PA.  

Conclusion: Future PA research requires consideration of the number and types of impairments that individuals experience, as well as assessing chronic conditions. This will improve understanding of the barriers to PA participation and inform interventions.
Original languageEnglish
Article number107754
JournalPreventive Medicine
Early online date10 Nov 2023
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2023


  • Chronic conditions
  • disability
  • physical activity
  • impairment
  • cross-sectional
  • England

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